St Helens 34 Wakefield 8: Pryce stands tall to fire St Helens past Wildcats

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The Independent Online

St Helens maintained their 100 per cent league record and moved six points clear at the top of Super League last night, overcoming a stubborn Wildcats side with a commanding second-half show at Knowsley Road.

Leon Pryce, proving an astute close-season capture from Bradford, was the decisive figure as Saints, who struggled into a 10-8 interval lead, took control in a crucial match-defining scoring burst. The huge stand-off dummied his way over from close range for his second try seven minutes after the restart and then set up Sean Long for another four minutes later after an eye-catching midfield break.

Many visiting sides have folded in such situations but Wakefield showed resilience, restricting Saints to just two more tries, James Graham bursting over twice late on to seal his side's win.

Before kick-off Saints paraded six members of the side that lifted the Challenge Cup for the first time in the club's history 50 years ago. They were looking to complete an impressive clean sweep of wins against the other 11 Super League teams this season.

Wakefield were forced into defence for the first 10 minutes and somehow emerged having conceded just six points. Keiron Cunningham brilliantly committed the visitors' defence before sending Paul Sculthorpe over on the angle. Jason Hooper added the conversion. Sean Long wasted a glorious chance ignoring Paul Wellens on his inside and being nailed by full-back Tom Saxton but such was Saints' dominance it hardly mattered.

The visitors grew in confidence with the talismanic David Solomona leading the revival. It was from his neat pass that Semi Tadulala swept in at the corner and eight minutes before half-time Tadulala grabbed his second, reacting first to Sam Obst's grubber. Despite now playing without fluency and lacking Jamie Lyon, ruled out with an infection, Saints regained the lead just before the break, Pryce twisting over to score from Long's pass.

St Helens: Wellens; Gardner, V Anderson, Talau, Meli; Pryce, Long; Fozzard, Cunningham, Cayless, Gilmour, Sculthorpe, Hooper. Substitutes used: Roby, Graham, P Anderson, Wilkin.

Wakefield: Saxton; Halpenny, Demetriou, Atkins, Tadulala; Rooney, Jeffries; MacGillivray, Obst, Korkidas, Solomona, Wrench, Betham. Substitutes used: Catic, Griffin, White, Whittle.

Referee: R Laughton (Dodsworth).